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#2661: No Verdict Yet in Cop Torture Case (fwd)


Thursday March 02 02:59 PM EST  No Verdict Yet in Cop Torture Case

 By TOM HAYS Associated Press Writer 

 NEW YORK (AP) - The jury in the trial of three police officers charged
with conspiring to conceal the role of one of them in the torture of a
Haitian immigrant ended its first day of deliberations Wednesday without
a verdict.  Officers Charles Schwarz, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder are
charged with covering up Schwarz's part in the 1997 attack on Abner
Louima.  The jury asked to review testimony by Sgt. William Hargrove,
the first investigator to interview Louima after the Aug. 9, 1997
attack. The defense had called Hargrove during trial to try to cast
doubt on Louima's credibility by showing how some details of his account
of the assault changed.  The Louima attack and the shooting of African
immigrant Amadou Diallo fueled allegations of widespread abuse of
 minorities by police. At trial, the government sought to expose a
supposed ``blue wall of silence'' in the Louima case.  Schwarz, 34, was
convicted last year of violating Louima's civil rights by holding him
down in the bathroom at the 70th Precinct stationhouse while another
officer, Justin Volpe, sodomized Louima with a broom handle in a fit of
 rage. He faces a possible life sentence.  In this trial, prosecutors
allege Schwarz, Bruder, 37, and Wiese, 37, lied to protect Schwarz. They
face terms of up to five years if convicted of conspiracy.  Volpe, who
is serving 30 years in prison, emerged as a key defense witness,
testifying that Wiese - not Schwarz - was in the bathroom with him when
Louima was beaten. Schwarz testified he was outside the building,
inspecting his patrol car.  In both trials, Louima testified that the
second officer in the bathroom was the driver of a patrol car that
brought him to the stationhouse; records show the driver was Schwarz. He
also said that the same officer took him - with his pants down -
directly from the front desk toward the bathroom. 
 By contrast, Hargrove testified that a hospitalized Louima told him in
a bedside interview that when he first arrived at the stationhouse, he
was thrown in a cell for 10 minutes. After that, the victim alleged two
officers took him into the bathroom and then pulled his pants down.  If
Schwarz is acquitted of conspiracy, attorneys plan to file a motion for
a new trial in the assault case.